Aeronautic Patents and Production
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.
Core Scripts
Optional scripts

Data for MeyerPlanes project

This data is about aeronautics and aviation before 1916. It has data on aeronautical clubs, patents, publications, journals, exhibitions, letters, firms, and eventually individuals who have relations to these other things. The data are intended to be open-sourced, and may open-sourced in early versions if anybody cares to. We are not ready to call it a 1.0 version yet. It will probably never be really finished, always improvable.

The data are in spreadsheets or Q&A format when being worked on to create them. We put them in .csv format to use them in R.

Author/editor-in-chief of the data: Peter Meyer Software: Adam Hyland

Patents database

Has these fields (variables):

Year protection applied

This is the year the patent was approved, in most countries but can be the year it was filed. I need to work this out ; probably it should be the year the patent was grantd. Four digits, going back to the 1600s and with a few exceptional cases extending past 1916. I don't plan to graph those after 1916 but wish to keep them in the data.

Where filed

Just four countries so far: br (for Britain), de (for Germany), fr (for France), and us (for the U.S.)

Tech field

More than one can be listed, and separated by semicolons. The main technology fields are:

  • LTA -- lighter than air ; this includes any version of balloons or dirigibles. A dirigible is a balloon with an exoskeleton, whose rigidity helps it be directed.
  • control -- something to do with control systems
  • propulsion -- something to do with motors and engines
  • propellers -- including water propellers, if thought to be relevant
  • Kite -- rare, but kites are the ancestors of gliders
  • Glider (unpowered)
  • Airplane (powered glider)
  • Helicopter (rare)
  • Rocket (rare; includes anything ballistic)
  • Parachute (rare)
  • Instrument -- a device intended for the air, possibly relevant to airplanes, e.g. for measuring temperature, pressure, and windspeed
  • DE77, DE77h, Group 1, Group 5, etc., 77h Class, Class 37 -- these are official classifications in the German patent system. Their class 77 is sport equipment, and that's how they classified all aero stuff up to about 1900. It's not a useful classification, though I want to keep it in the data since it is an actual real classification, but just toss it out for a technological analysis.

The technology field is not intended to carry much information about what the device (invention) is FOR but rather HOW it works, or WHAT is novel about it.

More than


These are not necessarily unique ; patent numbers might be reused across years and countries.

Global patent id

Can be filled in programmatically. Will have a format like this example: DE1914-295838 The first two identify the country where the patent was filed, the next four the year it was granted (or filed, if never granted), then a hyphen and then the patent number in the original year and country in which it was filed.

Sources and notes

Data on patents come from a bunch of eclectic sources, documented more fully in the second worksheet in this spreadsheet, not documented in the .csv file at all.

Date applied for

Date granted

Title/summary in English

Sources and notes (see Sources worksheet for details)

Original language patent title (or closest available info)

Supplementary to

Some patents are minor additions to an existing patent and will expire when the existing patent does. These are handled slightly differently across country governments. In this column is the patent id of the original, main patent. We can also perhaps include a reference here to an earlier patent when the current one is just the same, but applied for in another country.

related to aircraft?

This is usually 1 but is 0 if the patent is included in the data for some reason other than its relevance to aeronautics and aviation. If there's a 0 the patent is excluded from graphs describing the aviation history. One reason a patent would be included with a 0 is that the person filing it also did a lot of aviation patents and we want fuller information about them. (Only Otto Lilienthal is in this category now.) Or, a patent may be included because it refers to aerial subjects and could mechanically be thought of as about aeronautics ; there was at least one about a ladder for example that refers to "aerial". We don't want people to recurrently revisit these to see if they should have been included.

Publications database

The data come from Brockett (1910) with some insertions of information from other sources.

Fields are: 1. Unique number for this entry 2. Year 3. Language (1=French, 2=English, 3=German, 4=Italian ... and 10 others) 4. Authors 5. Key words describing the subject, separated by semicolons 6. Full text, with minor edits, of entry from Brockett (1910), including title


Not yet documented


Not yet documented

Exhibitions and conferences




Not yet documented.further

Letters between experimenters

Not yet documented


Not yet documented


Not yet documented; might be derived from the above.